Crime watchdog weighs in on video involving SPD officer

Watchdog group reacts to controversial video
Posted to social media Sunday, the video shows officer Gary Thomas yelling and cursing at a young man while waving around a baton. (Source: KSLA News 12)
Posted to social media Sunday, the video shows officer Gary Thomas yelling and cursing at a young man while waving around a baton. (Source: KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A well-established criminal watchdog group in South Louisiana, says a 50-second video does not give enough information to decide if the officer involved should be fired.

Posted to social media Sunday, the video shows officer Gary Thomas yelling and cursing at a young man while waving around a baton.

"These types of cases are more complex than just looking at a video," said Rafael Goyeneche, the president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission.

Goyeneche says when judging the video, there's a lot that's left out of the picture.

"The standard is not perfection on the part of an officer, they're human beings. That's why the investigation needs to know what happened afterward and what happened before a decision can be made."

This will be the second time in two years that eight-year police veteran Thomas' job was in jeopardy.

In May of last year, he was arrested for domestic abuse, placed on departmental leave and then fired months later.

"We don't know, or at least I don't know, what the prior incident was that resulted in his dismissal, nor do I know what was the justification for bringing him back. That's something that the police chief will take into consideration and review all of the facts," said Goyeneche.

At this time in the investigation, there are still more questions than answers as far as the public is concerned.

"It's hurtful, its bad, their perception anyway, and a lot of times someone's perception is their reality," said Councilman Jerry Bowman Jr.

Councilman Bowman says although we are still awaiting due process, one thing is clear.

"We've been trying to get the police to make that connection with citizens. With the CRU department and the CLO's, this will make a big breakdown in turning people's minds the other way," Bowman said.

Officer Thomas has declined to comment.

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